Read this slowly and focused, if you want to learn to read faster!
Everyone reads, and most people also read a lot more than they are aware of. Newspapers, e-mails, magazines, books, reports and so on. If you imagine how many hours you actually spend reading every year, it is strange that so few people actually try to train and improve their reading pace.
If I had to choose one single skill that have helped me the most the past year, it would be the art of speed reading. I receive an enormous amount of e-mails every day, and being able to skim thru them quickly without missing the message of the email has been a huge time saver. Not to mention the advantage it has given when studying and reading books.
Being capable of going through your material effectively and fast, will improve your learning curve dramatically and it is a huge time saver.
Speed reading is a skill that needs practice, and you have to remember that it is not only about pace, but about efficiency. There is no point in reading so fast that you don’t understand anything of what you have just read!
So how do you read faster?
1. Test your speed.
If you want to improve something, you have to find out what level you are currently at. The easiest way to measure how fast you read, is to take a test. You can do that on several sites on the internet. I used this one: http://www.readingsoft.com/.
2. Read the right things the right way.
First step is to choose your material. Do speed-read as much as you can, but please remember that some things are worth reading slowly (either for the sake of pleasure or to make sure you do not mess up something really important!). So if you are reading a letter from your loved one, a fictional-book or a legal document, then please DO NOT SPEED READ. There is a big difference between reading for pleasure and reading to get as much information as possible, in a short span of time.
When you are ready to start practicing speed-reading, start with some easy material that you feel comfortable reading.
3. Be focused.
Whether you are going through a whole book or just reading a short e-mail, the most important thing is to focus. Be present and only do one thing at a time.
Reading longer texts:
No!!! You can not read with the television running in the background. And no! You can not read while Lady Gaga is screaming in the background. Many mistakenly think that they are capable of reading effectively while they listen to music. But no, you can not read fast or efficient with lots of things going on in the background. You need to be focused and dedicated. If you have to listen to music, listen to classical music (sorry – we are getting a bit geeky now!). It will actually stimulate your brain activity and tune your brain to “learning-mode”. Choose long tracks and preferably baroque music. Go for Mozart, Vivaldi or Bach. Give it a try – and focus!!!
4. Use a tracker.
In the beginning speed-reading might seem very difficult and you can get the feeling that you are not actually understanding anything of what you are reading. That is fine, it takes practice before you master this skill.
Use a finger, pen or tracker to follow your reading. This is to keep track of your reading, but also to make sure that you are keeping a consistent pace and is focused.
5. Read in sequences.
Start your reading with the first word of each line and then add pace and try not to read every letter but only glance at the words. As you get more practice and up the pace, the next step is to start at the second word of each line. When you have done that for a while, move on to start with the third word in each line and end reading the line when you come to the third last word in the line.
When you read, you do not have to consciously read every single word and letter. Despite you missing words in the beginning and at the end of each line, your brain will at a sub-conscious level read the other words. Reading faster is not about reading every single word, but about reading in sequences.
6. Pratice speed.
When you start practicing, you should read as fast as you possible can. When you are training your ability to read faster, it is not about understudying everything of what you read, but about training the brain for a faster pace. You should practice at a speed that is actually higher than where you want to get to. This probably doesn’t sound very logic, but thrust me, it will work. Try and go for 15 minutes of practicing every day for two weeks. When you have done that for two weeks, you should try to test your reading pace again. You should read at a pace SLOWER than the pace you been practicing, but still way faster than your old speed. You will find, that you will have improved your speed, without loosing the understanding of what you have been reading. What is just as important, is that you will also have tuned your brain to be FOCUSED while reading. It is better to read for 15 minutes and be really dedicated, that 30 minutes where you are not paying enough attention.
Hope this have been helpful.
P.s: Tim Ferriss’ blog where he also discuss the topic of reading faster, has been very inspiring for me. Check his post about speed reading out here: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/07/30/speed-reading-and-accelerated-learning/